Category Archives: Great Players

Playing Hurt

Bergeron and Toews – two stars hurt in the same game that threw game 5 momentum in different directions last night.  It was killing Toews to have to sit.  At one point it appeared he pleaded with the coaching “Gimme one shift” but he didn’t play in the third.  Watching Bergeron coast around for three 15 second shifts and then gut out the pain when he got to the bench was telling.  He’s big time hurt.  What a disappointment it must be to make  it this far, playing so well, only to go out for the final couple of games with everything on the line.

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Filed under Great Players, injuries, Stanley

Mean, Dirty Guys with Lots of Rings

Summing up mean, dirty, talented leaders,  who was better – Messier or Denis Potvin?

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Filed under Dirty, Great Players

The Best Ever?

Gretzky or Orr?  Is there anyone else that belong on this very short list?

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Battlin’ Billy Smith vs Chico Resch – Bow Tie Bill Made The Right Call

If the Islanders had traded Billy Smith away instead of Chico Resch, would they have won as many cups in the 1980’s (or any cups for that matter)?

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Names Not On The Cup

When it comes to players who never won a cup that I would have loved to see win it, Jean Ratelle and Gilbert Perreault are the ones that come to mind first.

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OFSSA Champions (Not)

32 years ago today, the 1980-81 St. Petes’s team, of which I was a part, headed off to OFSSA in North Bay on a yellow school bus.  It was a solid team sporting a 38-3-2 won lost record and was the second seed in the eight team tournament.  We had played and beaten the first seed Monarch Park lion’s earlier in the season and were coming to the tournament pretty healthy.

Brad Cowie was our best player, and the best player I have every played on any team with.  He was so good.  We had lost in the OFSSA semi’s in the previous year and while we had lost a fair number of really good grade 13 players, this year’s team was still a really good team.

We won our first contest against London Saunders on Thursday afternoon at 2:15 PM.  We had a really good game and I think the score was 4-2 or something close to that.   That win put us in the semi’s on Friday night.  Our likely opponent was to be the East York Goliaths, a big physical team that we had lost to in the annual Snofest Tournament finals in Peterborough in January.  I am not one of those players who cares not who he plays.  I remember getting a beat-down from playing these guys a couple of months before and was not looking forward to playing them.  Monarch Park, the higher seed didn’t bother me a bit.

And so, without much to do in North Bay for the next 24+ hours, we did what any group of disciplined teenage hockey-playing boys would do, we lost our mental focus quickly.  I remember spending a good chunk of Thursday aft and evening playing pool in a snooker hall across the street from the sleepy, summertime motel we were staying in.  Our coaches went back to the rink to scout and by early evening came back to the hotel to share the miraculous news – East York had been put out of the gold medal chase with a loss to a rag-tag team from the Soo whose hot goalie had stood on his head.   We were pumped and feeling all the more like it might be our year.

With that news, we got just a little further ahead of ourselves.  Again, it’s now only Thursday night and we still have almost a full day before our Friday night semi game.  Let the card games begin.  Some school groupies showed up in a car and brought up the girlfriend of one of the boys and focus slipped a little further.

By Thursday afternoon, our goalie Bernie Crowley (no relation but the nuns at the school used to think we looked alike enough to be brothers) had lost enough money in a card game to the McDougall brothers that he didn’t have enough dough to cover his Friday night hotel room fee.  Not a good omen at all and more than a bit of distraction.

Things got worse and since I’ve written the details of how the actual game unfolded in this post, I won’t repeat it here.  I remember the ride home post-game.  We would have happily stayed in North Bay overnight but our coaches herded us on to the old yellow school bus for the four hour ride back to Peterborough.  I remember it being one freakin’ cold ride.  I swear the bus had either no heat or the coaches told the bus driver to leave it turned off as punishment.  We got in to Peterborough really late, feeling really defeated.  Our parents were there to pick us up in the middle of the night at St. Pete’s and our little dream of winning Ontario was done.

While we didn’t know it that night, our coach Dave Bowen announced within a few weeks he would be leaving the high school and hanging up his coaching blades for awhile.  It was a real disappointment for me as he was the best coach I ever had and I had two years to go in  high school.   In the following season, we won the city championship for a 5th straight year but didn’t advance out of COSSA.  In my final year, the string of city championships ended at 5 as Kenner Collegiate took the crown.

ofssa 1981

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Filed under Great Players, High School, Losing, Missed Chances, Road Trips, teams

50 Mission Cap

As a big Tragically Hip fan, this song is one of my fav’s.  Barilko of course, is the stuff of legend, made more so by the tragedy that ended his life so quickly after him reaching such a wonderful pinnacle of sport at such a young age.  Imagine scoring the overtime winner against the Hab’s in the Stanley Cup finals as a member of the Leafs.

 

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Filed under Canada, Great Players, music, NHL'ers

Ovie, We Hardly Knew Ya

Watched a bit of a game this past week with the Caps getting beaten handily by someone.  It was actually sad watching Ovechkin buzzing helplessly around the perimeter, rarely getting a shot, rarely looking dangerous.  I hope it was just a bad game for him because he’s far too young to have his abilities drop off so significantly.

In his first few years in the league, I loved how much he appeared to love every shift, every goal, every hit.   He truly looked liked he loved playing.  I suppose it’s easier to love it when you’re scoring 50+ goals a years and being considered the best player in the world.    He’s playing like he was just traded to Toronto!

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Gretz

215 points in one season.  92 goals in one season (but he wasn’t really a goal scorer).  50 goals in 39 games.  4 Stanley Cups.  I know it was a different era and the goalies wore driveway hockey equipment but seriously, they wore the same stuff in the 70’s and no one put up those numbers.

I wonder how long those numbers will last?   Some athletic records last a long time.  Maris’ home run number went almost 40 years before it fell.  Bobby Jones was the last guy to win Golf’s grand slam and that was over 70 years ago.   However, if you believe records were made to be broken, these may fall some day.

I think it will be easier for someone to break the 92 goal barrier than the 215 points barrier though.

 

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Filed under Great Players, NHL'ers

Growing Up Cheering for the Petes

Growing up in Peterborough, home of the Petes, was really a blast if you were a kid who wanted his junior heroes to play in the NHL. That’s because the Pete’s always had a great record at developing young players for the NHL. There were some great local names out of the Peterborough organization who went on to become NHL stars with Mickey Redmond, Bob Gainey and Steve Larmer among them. Although not from Peterborough, even Gretz himself played 3 games for the Petes when he was only 14 I think.

I remember going to a game as a really little kid with my Dad. It must have been the very early 1970’s. Richard Martin, a future member of the famed French Connection line with Gilbert Perrault and Rene Robert in Buffalo, was playing for the other team and we were behind their bench, close enough for me to really be really enthralled by the look of real hockey players. I remember the backup goalie flipped a puck up to my Dad near the end of the game to give to me. I was king.

Another year, when I was older, I remember going to see a play-off game at the Memorial Centre where the Ottawa 67’s were playing the Pete’s. The place was packed because it was late in the play-off’s and I think that translated into 5000 or so people. The most vivid memory I have was Keith Acton, one of the Pete’s go-to guys on that year’s team, playing centre against Bobby Smith. Now Acton was probably no more than 5’7 or 5’8” and Smith must have been at least 6’4”. Very funny watching them take face-off’s against one another.

I also remember a few Pete’s whose hockey fame was probably at its peak on those teams. Jim Turkewiecz was a great defenceman who went on to play in the WHA. Bob Neely went to the Leafs and like many other promising young players, found his best days were behind him shortly after he got there.

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Filed under Great Players, NHL'ers